IATA says survey data shows passengers are onboard with biometrics

IATA says survey data shows passengers are onboard with biometrics

GENEVA — Airline passengers are in favour of using biometrics to speed up processes and eliminate queuing post-pandemic, says IATA, based on the results of its 2021 Global Passenger Survey (GPS).

IATA says its GPS results are based on 13,579 responses from 186 countries. Complete analysis is at www.iata.org/gps .

“Passengers have spoken and want technology to work harder, so they spend less time ‘being processed’ or standing in queues,” said Nick Careen, IATA’s Senior Vice President for Operations, Safety and Security. “And they are willing to use biometric data if it delivers this result. Before traffic ramps-up, we have a window of opportunity to ensure a smooth return to travel post pandemic and deliver long-term efficiency improvements for passengers, airlines, airports and governments.”

Careen says the survey delivered two main conclusions: passengers want to use biometric identification if it expedites travel processes; and passengers want to spend less time in lineups.

  • 73% of passengers are willing to share their biometric data to improve airport processes (up from 46% in 2019).
  • 88% will share immigration information prior to departure for expedited processing.
  • 55% of passengers identified queuing at boarding as a top area for improvement.
  • 41% of passengers identified queuing at security screening as a top priority for improvement.
  • 38% of passenger identified queuing time at border control / immigration as a top area for improvement.

The survey also indicated that just over a third of passengers (36%) have experienced the use of biometric data when travelling and, of these, 86% were satisfied with the experience.

More than half (56%) say they have concerns about data breaches. Passengers also said they want clarity on who their data is being shared with (52%) and how it is used/processed (51%).



Pre-COVID-19, says IATA, the average passengers spent 1.5 hours in travel processes (check-in, security, border control, customs, and baggage claim). Current data indicates that airport processing times are now 3 hours during peak time with travel volumes at only about 30% of pre-COVID-19 levels.

The survey found that:

  • 85% of passengers want to spend less than 45 mins on processes at the airport if they are traveling with only hand luggage.
  • 90% of passengers want to spend less than one hour on processes at the airport when traveling with a checked bag.

IATA says its IATA Travel Pass, originally a response to the pandemic and now in use with many airlines worldwide, is a safe and secure way for travellers to check the requirements for their journey, receive test results and scan their vaccine certificates, verify that these meet the destination and transit requirements and share them with health officials and airlines prior to departure and using e-gates.

IATA also has One ID, designed for biometric travel and designed to allow passengers to move from curb to gate using a single biometric travel token such as a face, fingerprint or iris scan. Careen says airlines are strongly behind the initiative, and the priority now is ensuring there is regulation in place to support the vision of a paperless travel experience.

“We cannot just revert to how things were in 2019 and expect our customers to be satisfied. Pre-pandemic we were preparing to take self-service to the next level with One ID. The crisis makes its twin-promises of efficiency and cost-savings even more urgent. And we absolutely need technologies like IATA Travel Pass to re-enable self-service or the recovery will be overwhelmed by paper document checks. The GPS results are yet another proof point that change is needed,” said Careen.